23 July 2018 (gig)
30 July 2018
A rather muted crowd, especially for Italians, awaits in the foyer of the majestic Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan, allowing the air con to quietly soothe one’s body heat on this hot summer’s night, but also I suspect, slightly stunned to have the amazing Burt Bacharach about to perform.
BB is 90 years old and quite simply a legend in his own lifetime. The contribution his song writing skills have made to popular music is second to none, helping to magnify the enormous talents of the artists lucky enough to have performed his songs with his original way of arranging own compositions. Add to that and noting that over 1000 plus artists have recorded his songs its clear he has been able to cross all genres as Elvis Costello, White Stripes, The Stranglers, Perry Como, Cilla Black for example can testify.
With the added gift of teaming up with wordsmith genius Hal David and later Carole Bayer Sager, what you get are songs that defy time. Many artists write and then create music of their own time, a great artist like Prince comes to mind, but to write songs that are timeless is a step beyond I feel.
So what is tonight all about? A trip down memory lane for many, especially to recall or magnify one thing I feel; Love! With some obscure chord structures and sequences thanks to his jazz background, the choice of unusual instruments with selected orchestral elements, the wonderful words of HD, these compositions seem to describe in song exactly what it is to feel, fall in and fall out of love.
BB’s piano is centre stage, he, still willing and able to play even now. The band is made up of bass and drums, sax and trumpet, violin, keyboard and synth, and 2 girl singers and 1 male vocalist.
Burt wearing jeans, sneakers, tee shirt and casual jacket looks in great shape. He commands the band either with his piano or simply as a conductor, with songs coming, sometimes in the form of medley’s and sometimes as full compositions.
There is absolutely no clutter in the arrangements with, as Thom Yorke said, "everything in its right place". I cannot recall the last time a Triangle was played in a concert and sounding if it was exactly what was needed! Burt often chats in between songs, the voice croaky and broken, as it is when he sings, but he demands to be listened. He is passionately anti-Trump and worried and confused about his homeland as newer songs played tonight testify.
What makes the heart miss a beat however are the classics. ‘A House Is Not a Home’, ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’, ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’, ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, ‘Walk On By’, ‘Arthur’s Theme(Best That You Can Do)’, ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ and so many more. The only problem is that the singers are not Dionne Warwick or Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello or Tom Jones, Luther Vandross or Dusty Springfield ecc and they cannot quite convey the sheer class of these landmark records. That’s why I personally preferred BB’s warble, like when he sang 'What's It All About Alfie', for example, as he seemed to be singing from the heart not just performing as the vocalists were.
When he closes with encores ‘That’s What Friends Are For’,( I didn’t even know, personally speaking, that he had written it) and a crowd singalong of the wonderful ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’, nostalgia has truly been hit for a home run and the crowd gives the band but above all, Burt, a standing ovation. It has been most certainly our pleasure and an honour dear sir.